The Unexpected trilogy – By Matthew Seitz

Dr. Will Varner’s latest trio of books came together in a unique way.

“It’s not if you go to IBEX, it’s when.” Many have heard Dr. William Varner say this phrase trying to cajole them into attending Master’s study abroad program in Israel.  

Varner has been a long-time favorite professor here at the university and has even taught some students’ parents when they attended The Master’s College (TMU). Varner first came to TMU in 1996 to teach Old Testament studies and biblical languages. 

Since then, he has been serving students, helping them improve their knowledge of Scripture. Varner has accomplished much in his career as a Bible scholar. He has written multiple books, including three commentaries on James (with a fourth on the way), “Awake O Harp,” “Jacob’s Dozen: A Prophetic Look at the Tribes of Israel” and “The Messiah: Revealed, Rejected, Received.” He was also a key translator in the Legacy Standard Bible’s translation.  

One of Varner’s latest books, which was released in March 2020,  is called “Passionate about the Passion Week: A Fresh Look at Jesus’ Last Days.” It is an in-depth look at Jesus’ time leading up to the Crucifixion. Although this book is not new, many people believe it only recently came out because they had to push sales for Easter week this year.  

This book is Varner’s personal favorite and interestingly enough, it was unplanned. In May 2019, Varner was taking a group of 30 people to Israel on his 51st trip there. He and his team had to take a shuttle to get to the plane. When they arrived, his ticket and passport were nowhere to be found. 

The team went on to Israel, where he would join them later. In those few days before his new passport would arrive, he wrote roughly one-third of the book.  

“I teach the life of Christ, and always wanted to write about this part of His life,” Varner said.

The story does not end there. Writing a book on the end of Christ’s life led his publisher to ask him to write a story on the beginning of His life. He then wrote “Anticipating the Advent: Looking for Messiah in All the Right Places,” which covers Jesus’ birth and the early years of his life.  

Having written a book on the beginning and the end of Jesus’ life, TMU Bible Department chairman, Tom Halstead, had him write a book on the middle years, specifically from Jesus’ baptism to the Transfiguration. This third title is called, “The Messiah’s Ministry,” and he hopes it will come out early this fall.  

“This was not planned,” Varner said. “If I had planned the Messianic trilogy, I would have done it one, two then three.” These books were written out of order but will make a compelling trilogy for the life of Christ.

This is an unexpected, yet exciting look at the life of Christ.  

“It’s familiar material but sometimes familiarity breeds contempt and some of the things we know and hear and repeat need to be looked at again,” Varner said regarding Jesus’ life.  

Varner is an expert in Bible translation and used those skills to produce the unique trilogy.  

“I close every chapter with a prayer because these are not just academic subjects, but they should inspire our devotion and prayer,” Varner commented.

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